AT A GLANCE: The mixed-breed dog
- Small and dainty, to large and stocky
- Short hair, or a long, sleek, or fluffy hair coat
- Every possible color and pattern
Physical characteristics of the mixed-breed dog
Mixed-breed dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. One of the best perks of mixed-breeds is that you can choose a pet with any combination of appealing characteristics. Floppy ears or perky? Large breed or purse-sized? Long, fluffy coat, or sleek, short hair that requires minimal care? There are mixed-breed dogs with practically any mix of traits you may prefer.
Approaching your pet search without a specific list of characteristics in mind affords you the freedom to fall in love with any dog who catches your eye. As you wander through a shelter or humane society, you can choose the dog with whom you form an instant connection. Another bonus: Mixed-breed dogs typically cost a fraction of purebred dogs, and if you adopt from a shelter or humane society, not only are you giving your dog a home, but also the adoption fee will help the organization care for other pets.
Personality and temperament of the mixed-breed dog
Adopting a mixed-breed dog allows you to choose a pet whose personality and temperament fits your lifestyle. If you are adopting an adult dog, it may be fairly easy to tell what his personality will be like, although the way a dog acts in your home may differ from his behavior at a shelter. Living in a cage with dogs barking all around makes many dogs anxious, and their true, fun-loving personalities may not emerge until they are safely in your home.
If you adopt a puppy, you likely will be unable to discern his adult personality until he is older. However, a puppy’s appearance can often give clues about the breeds that are part of his mix, and researching common behavioral characteristics of those breeds can give you insight into his potential personality. If you want a boisterous, outgoing family dog, look for a mixed-breed dog who has the physical characteristics of a sociable breed. If you want a low-maintenance couch companion, choose a mixed-breed dog with the physical attributes of a calmer breed.
Common health concerns for the mixed-breed dog
The average lifespan of a mixed-breed dog depends on its makeup. Health concerns also depend on the breeds that make up your dog. Many owners have their mixed-breed dog genetically tested to determine which breeds contribute to their pet’s genetic makeup so they can watch for health problems common to those breeds. Although your dog may look like a German shepherd, you cannot be absolutely sure of his unique mix without genetic testing.
Mixed-breed dogs are often said to have “hybrid vigor” and are less likely than purebreds to have breed-specific health concerns.
Caring for the mixed-breed dog
The grooming your mixed-breed dog requires depends on his hair coat. A dog with a short, sleek coat, such as a boxer mix, needs brushing only once a week to minimize shedding, whereas a double-coated dog with a thick undercoat, such as a collie or Siberian husky mix, will need more frequent brushing to prevent tangles, matting, and excessive shedding. Dogs with long hair coats, such as poodle or schnauzer mixes, require regular professional grooming to prevent matting and overgrowth. All dogs need a bath, ear cleaning, and nail trim monthly. For specifics about your unique pet, be sure to ask your veterinarian.
All dogs are at a high risk of dental disease if their teeth are not brushed daily and regularly cleaned by a veterinarian. Tartar accumulation on teeth surfaces above and below the gum line causes painful periodontal disease, root degeneration, and tooth loss. Your veterinarian can demonstrate how to brush your dog’s teeth daily so you can keep them healthy.
A mixed-breed dog’s exercise requirements depend on his individual energy level. Highly energetic dogs need daily exercise, such as hiking, running, or swimming. Dogs with a quick intellect, such as German shepherd and border collie mixes, will also require daily mental stimulation, such as food puzzles or agility training, to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Lower-energy dogs, such as Chihuahua mixes, will be happy with a game of fetch from the couch or a walk around the block.
The mixed-breed dog is the perfect dog for you if:
- You want a fun, lively dog with a mixture of personality traits
- You want to choose the size, color, and coat type of your canine companion
- You don’t want to pay top dollar for a purebred dog
- You want to peruse the aisles of a shelter and choose a dog that melts your heart